Reminders When Seeking Wisdom

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Anyone who knows me very well knows that I am a networker and a wisdom-seeker. Since I was in high school I have tried to surround myself with people heading in the direction I want to go who know more about a subject than I do and I am never afraid to ask for help.
 

The Bible is full of encouragement to seek wisdom.

Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance. Proverbs 20:18

Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. Proverbs 4:5

Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Proverbs 4:7

I highly encourage you to seek wisdom.

The teachings on wisdom are like all other teachings within the Bible.  They should be understood within the context of the rest of Scripture.  Recently I was reading in the book of Isaiah and came across a verse that adds a spin to the issue of seeking wisdom:

You are wearied with your many counsels; let them stand forth and save you, those who divide the heavens, who gaze at the stars, who at the new moons make known what shall come upon you. Isaiah 47:13

I was reminded of three important principles regarding wisdom:

  1. Gaining wisdom is invaluable, but we need to make sure we are listening to the right words of wisdom.
  2. After we have sought wisdom from reliable advisors and we are left to make a decision, ultimately the responsibility to move forward in action is ours.
  3. The wisdom we should seek first and foremost is from God.  Learning to know and hear His voice should be our number one goal in attaining wisdom.

Are you in need of wisdom?  Besides God, who do you go to when you need a word of wisdom?

The Economy is Driven by Greed and Fear (Lessons learned from Lithuania)

DSCF7748One of the primary purposes for our recent visit to Lithuania was to work with business leaders and individuals on issues related to personal finance, leadership, and budgeting.  This was our initial trip, but we were able to open doors and build trust with key people in the church and community for future interaction.  Our end goal is Kingdom-building, but instead of a medical or construction project, which is typical for many mission trips, we went addressing the primary need of the Lithuanians at this time; the economy.  Naturally we received lots of questions about the economy in the United States.  There was keen awareness that our economy impacts their economy.

Lithuania was under the communist rule of the Soviet Union until the early 90’s, so capitalism is a fairly new concept for most of the people.  The fast introduction to a free market has led to tremendous problems in the country.  There were lots of “instant” millionaires and success stories and now they are experiencing a natural correction.  Unfortunately, because their economy grew so fast it will also decline fast and that has caused panic within the country.

In one of our meetings a leading businessman seemed to capture the essence of the problem in a couple of words.  He said, “It appears to me that the problems in our country started with greed and now they are being continued with fear.”

GREED and FEAR

My new friend may be onto something.  In fact, I think he is.  The problem in his country seems to mirror the problems in our country.  It may have taken us longer to get to our place of struggle than in his country, but we face the same struggles.  What got us into our economic condition was largely triggered by greed and what is keeping us from fully recovering is largely triggered out of fear.

I was also reminded that the church has answers to each of these struggles, greed and fear.  Perhaps it could be said that we should have been addressing the first problem better all along and we may not have to be addressing the second problem as much, but either way, we have a role to play in the current state of the economy.

What do you think?

Keywords People Use To Find My Blog

I am always curious what people are looking for when they come to my blog. Occasionally I look at the keywords stats in Google Analytics to decide what interests or needs people have and this helps form my thoughts about what blogs are needed or desired. I did that tonight.

Here are the top 10-keyword searches for today. In parenthesis is the number of times those words or something very similar were searched for as of 7 PM today.

  1. Gary Lamb (22)
  2. Bible verse God will not put any more on you than you can handle (18)
  3. How to win back wife’s heart (13)
  4. Discipline for Children (11)
  5. Ten characteristics of good leadership (10)
  6. How to hear from God (8)
  7. How to recover from failure (7)
  8. Bad bosses (6)
  9. Define Team Player (6)
  10. Mothers who control their sons (4)

It appears most people today are interested in family issues, work, and their relationship to God.

What issues would you like to see covered in this blog?

Capitalism Involves Risk, That’s What Makes It Capitalistic

Lately I have heard the phrase “increased regulation”a lot regarding our current economic and banking system. I even heard the president recently say that we must “strengthen regulation to insure this economic crisis never happens again”. I am not a politician nor am I an economist, and this is purely based on my opinion, not my expertise, but those words seem contradictory to me of what we have attempted to establish as a nation, regardless of one’s political persuasion. (I have spent far more time applauding the new president for his family life and leadership ability on this blog, so I should be entitled to offer some criticism as well.  Read some good things I have to say about him HERE and HERE.)  I am not advocating that we do not need new regulations and I am certainly for government protecting those who cannot protect themselves and for making an even playing field, but the point I am making is that I believe it is naïve to think we can ever regulate ourselves out of economic downfalls in a capitalistic society.

In a purely free-market society there will be seasons of prosperity and seasons of despair. There will be those who gain wealth and those who lose wealth. The more freedom that is given allows the more risks that will be taken and the more mistakes that will be made. No one who knows anything about capitalism should be too surprised at where we are today considering some of the abuse of the system, which has occurred in recent years, but that is part of the system. If there is any regulation needed, protecting from that type of abuse may be warranted, but we should never assume that if we provide enough rules our economy will never suffer.

Recently while I was in Lithuania I spoke with some people who want the country to return to Communism, because, as they put it, they feel they are “missing hope” in a capitalistic society. Under Communism, even though most had very little and the same people told story after story of doing without and wanting for more, they at least knew what to expect. That was their definition of hope. I understand that capitalism allows a large amount of uncertainty and risk. There are few guarantees, but that is what makes it capitalistic, the ability for individuals to make a difference for themselves through hard work, risk and speculation.

If we ever start to legislate to the point of stopping the economy from ups and downs we should consider calling it something other than capitalism.

What do you think?

Leadership Requires Guts

The call to leadership often requires making difficult decisions no one else is willing to make. Over the years I have observed people who call themselves leaders, but they easily give up when difficult times come to the organization. Leaders should strive to structure the organization to weather storms, but in any organization there will be times when hard decisions have to be made and a leader must be willing to make them for the good of the organization. This does not negate the need for servant leadership, but it is a reminder that leading often requires making decisions no one else is willing to make:

Times such as:

  • When an employee is no longer a good fit…
  • When difficult changes need implementing…
  • When no one seems to agree with your decisions…
  • When you have to say no more than you get to say yes…
  • When a current system is broke…
  • When finances are strained…
  • When a new opportunity or direction presents itself…

A person that seeks to be a leader should look deep in his or her gut before they accept the position of leadership and consider if he or she has the ability to make the tough calls. As momma used to say, “If you can’t stand the heat…get out of the kitchen.”

Do you have the guts to be a leader?

What is the most difficult decision you have had to make as a leader?

Seeking God’s Protection and Comfort

iStock_000004677667XSmallBut you, O God, DO see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. Psalm 10:14 NIV

The man was really just trying to be nice. The cute little boy cowered, however, into his Daddy’s shoulder…..

I remember when my son was younger, three or less, and we would be in public and a stranger would come up to take notice of the cute little blonde in my arms. The more the person would try to get my son’s attention, the more my son would hide his face in my chest. We called it shyness, but it was really a son seeking protection in his father.

Do you ever have need to seek your Father’s protection?

We see so many hardships in life. We endure struggles and heartaches and are sometimes tempted to ask, “where is God in all this?” Often we fail to recognize God in the midst of trials.

May I assure you of something? God does see trouble and grief. He is not oblivious to our pain. He is carefully watching over His children. At just the right time, God will literally take our struggles in His mighty hand and lift us up out of our pit of despair.

The Psalmist talks about the victim. Have you ever felt like a victim? Do you often feel there is nowhere to turn?  God wants to protect His children. God is looking for victims who will call upon His name.

Climb into Daddy’s lap today! Rest your weary head on His powerful shoulders! Cast your burdens upon Him, because He cares for you! Tell Daddy you love Him and trust Him with all your heart! You might even want to read the Bible together.

Tell Him a little child sent you!

When An Organization or Business Can Be Inflexible

The vision or end goal or an organization or business should be consistent, but the way the vision is reached should mostly be flexible. As demands of consumers or clients change, as the economy changes, or if improvements need to be made to the existing methods of reaching the defined vision, an organization or business needs to remain flexible to tweaking the way it attempts to reach its set goals.

3347763849_3c7d5ed428There are times, however, when an organization or business can be totally inflexible.  Take my favorite Philadelphia breakfast dive, Little Pete’s Diner.  Little Pete has been doing the same thing, in the same building, with no remodeling and no major changes to their huge menu for years.   They are cash only, 2 people minimum per booth (NO EXCEPTIONS), they are not keen on substitutions (trust me), you get 2 minutes to decide on your order, and they turn tables quickly.  It’s a typical no nonsense diner that has won countless “Best Of” awards, but they are the way they are and they aren’t changing anytime soon.  Why? They offer the best breakfast in central city Philly and have good, cheap food 24 hours a day and people often wait to get a seat. Bottom line: they don’t have to, that’s why.

Here are some reasons I can think of that an organization can be inflexible:

  • When it is the best at what it does and there is no close second.
  • When there is no competition.
  • When demand for the product or service far exceeds supply.

For the rest of us, we may need to consider remaining flexible in our methods if we want to continue to realize our goals.  (Just ask General Motors about this principle!)

New Initiatives Coming This Fall

859261_92044453Recently I posted about the need to use the summer to plan for the fall. Read that post HERE. I have been heeding my own advice and dreaming and planning for the fall. This is going to be an exciting time. We are experiencing record growth at Grace Community Church, God is showing up mightily in people’s lives, and we think this fall is going to be crazy.

This week one of our elders stopped by my office to pray with me and I was able to share where my wheels have been spinning lately with him. Putting it all on paper excites me, so I thought I would share them here also.

Here’s the current major initiative list on my agenda for this fall:

Financial development. We want to work with our people to teach them Biblical principles of money and help those who are willing receive coaching in their own personal finances.

Serve Strategy. We have a 3-part strategy at Grace Community Church. Gather/Commit/Serve. This fall a major emphasis will be placed on the Serve part of that strategy.

Systems development. We have grown so fast and now we need some structure in place to sustain that growth and continue to grow. Read a post about that process HERE.

Staff development. We have an incredible staff, but new people have been added and we need to intentionally build understanding of and relationship with each other. We want build on our strengths and improve our teamwork.

Growth of people. We want to strategically think through the discipleship process at Grace through community groups and service opportunities to help people grow spiritually.

Social media. We want to expand our use of social media and take advantage of the cultural opportunities those mediums provide.

College Ministry. This is the year we intend to launch college ministry in a big way. We are excited about our outreach to Austin Peay State University! We love our university and college students!

What new initiatives are you planning for this fall?

Some Economists Want More Stimulus

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I have a few questions about the economy based on some recent news articles…

  • Did you know there are economists who claim the government needs to pump even more money into the economy?
  • Which number stimulus package would this be?  Who will pay for this one…China maybe?
  • Seriously, aren’t countries about tired of loaning us money so we can place it back in the economy?
  • Have we given the last two stimulus packages time to work?
  • Do we expect immediate rebound, considering the spending frenzy of Americans went on for numerous years that got us into this mess.

Just questions I am pondering….

Read this Business Week Story HERE.

What questions do you have?